All Humans Are Welcome Here!

Category : Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,668 mile (4,294 km) trail running through the tallest mountain crests and volcanic peaks of California, Oregon, and Washington from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. I walked its entire length in 2013 and was back on trail for more casual fun in 2014 and 2015. In my opinion, it is a 16″ by 2,668 mile slice of heaven.

Photograph looking south along the clear Colorado River from the Beamer Trail canyon shelf in Grand Canyon.

North Kaibab, a Trail Closure

So much water! So much trail destruction everywhere! This morning I heard that the North Kaibab trail is 1000% closed for maintenance until June 2. In fact, the entire North Rim is closed until June 2 (at least to cars)! And starting tomorrow the Canyon below Glen dam is about to experience a rare Spring “High Flow Experiment.” Shit’s gotten real in the Grand Canyon area this winter! Wow! Usually it opens May 1. 2023 has thrown a monkey wrench in thru hiker’s plans, and many of them refuse to back down. I’m not hiking but I still got excitedly thinking about fun (but still pretty much impossible) detours, and reminiscing about my time on some of them. (I have… continue reading

Creek Fire smoke in central Nevada

Flu and The Trail, part 2

This post is an update to my March 16 post, Flu and the Trail. It turns out you can thru-hike during a pandemic, but if you’re not still asking yourself “should I?” and considering your impacts on other people, I hope you’ll keep reading and hear me out. After volunteering several months of my life over several years to help thru-hikers on the PCT, I left with a bad taste in my mouth. I met several burned out trail angels who felt similarly, and noticed quite a few hikers themselves abandoning the trail shaking their heads. Why? Because thru-hikers are generally privileged, and often self-involved and entitled. It’s not exactly “rewarding” work to help people who don’t really need help…. continue reading

colorful sunset

Flu and the Trail

We’re now at least a couple months into the surreal shitshow called “COVID-19” (a coronavirus). I’ve spent the past week and a half-sequestered very remotely, not just because of the misanthropy I’ve felt more and more while scanning the news and social media, but to enjoy the wild, help build an off-grid house, and perhaps survive (and help others survive) the pandemic I’ve been warning friends about since I was a nurse in Portland in the oughties. This type of thing was bound to happen, and it’s too bad more people aren’t more prepared. (That said, not many of us have the resources to be prepared.) While cutting wood, plastering, and painting over the past week, various unrelated COVID-19 impacts… continue reading

High Sierra glacial basin

Nature : Museum

Discussing my latest backpacking trip with my guy, I came up with an analogy which I like very much, and which seems original and enlightening. I compared modern wilderness visits with museum visits of the recent past (pre-2010). My first memories of museums were of the Anchorage Museum as a young teen, then the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay, and the Met in NYC and Mutter Museum in Philly as an older teen. Even if relatively brief, I treasure those visits for several reasons. Be they small or petty reasons it doesn’t matter, the memories are large as a very deep breath. Memories of carefully-curated open space and light, surprises of color and subtle hushed sounds. Photos were disallowed and so… continue reading

mount morrisson sierra nevada

Dear PCT Class of 2019

I’m getting ready to go on a hike of my own, but I wanted to drop you a note to let you know it’s still snowing in the High Sierra. My 2017 blog post “Dear PCT Class of 2017” with tips about snow travel and whatnot definitely, definitely applies, since we got more snow (* see footnotes) this year than we did overwinter 2016/2017. I spent the winter shoveling, plowing, skiing, and snowshoeing in the Sierra, and I’ll tell you what: nobody who knows anything about avalanches or snow conditions (in brief, they suck) is going back there behind the Crest right now. I hope you read my 2017 letter and do all the other research and preparation you can,… continue reading

Annual Whitney Debaucle: 2018 Edition

This story is about this year’s weird ass annual Whitney hike. I’ve been sleeping on top of Whitney every year for six years now, and each year it seems to get worse. This year I made a loop, planning to go in over Baxter Pass and out via the Mountaineer’s Route on Whitney. It didn’t happen that way. Something happened on top of Whitney that turned the whole trip into a skidmark. The story starts off a little slow, but stick with it. It ends with poop and helicopters, which always liven a story. The way in I actually walked to Rae Lakes all the way from the center of Independence. WHO DOES THAT? Me. I do that. I’m not… continue reading

Gotta Outnumber Rotten Folks

OK so a little rant about the “sexual harrassment” on the trail. Believe it or not I was at one point relieved at how different things were on the Pacific Crest Trail compared to the Portland Oregon cycling circle jerky community I had come from. In the bike community I tried to have a little half-dressed fun cheering cycling races which I was also RACING IN, and then got called all sorts of names by strangers AND friends. “Whore,” “slut,” “butterface,” “anti-feminist.” OMG. Next thing I knew, after I’d been beaten down into silence, it was a huge trend to cheer races like that. Ahead of my time, I guess. What folks didn’t know is I came from a childhood… continue reading

High Sierra Access Passes & Transportation

Minor updates to this snow report and trailhead access information page were made Spring 2023 because of the high snow (water content) year. Basically what I’m pointing out is that hikers should plan to carry extra food as they might have to spend an extra day or two just accessing trail towns from the trail. In other words, be prepared to WALK MOST THE WAY TO TOWN. In snow. PCT/JMT High Snow Alternate Route I mapped out a bypass route which I myself would gladly hike (and which I have indeed hiked and explored a lot of) instead of hiking in the High Sierra summer 2023: The Owens Valley is wet and green, something some of us might not… continue reading

View of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome from the West

More PCT high snow tips

In my last feverish post, I totally missed some really good points about hiking in snow – really crucial stuff like navigation. A 2011 nobo thru-hiker made me aware right away (but doesn’t necessarily want to be credited). So without further ado here are more tips from someone who has gone through the difficult and uncomfortable, but very survivable process of trudging through the High Sierra in a high snow year: “GPS/phone = major time saver. THERE IS NO TRAIL. Forget the trail being avalanched away. It’s just not there” (until many people walk it first). Learn how to read a map and navigate by it (that is an invaluable link to a precious map-reading resource, BTW). “Carry a paper… continue reading

View of High Sierra March 28

Dear PCT class of 2017

2017 snow pack is the biggest whomper we have seen in 20 years. Forget about 2005 and 2011, we are entering new territory with just about as much (well, more) snow but more heat from our warming planet. Snow is not only STILL falling in the Sierra, but has begun to melt, with significantly high and early – dangerous – runoff.

Little Package